People with chronic health conditions are highly prone to developing severe complications with Covid-19 and diabetic pregnant women who have contracted the virus are in this high risk category, according to an expert on diabetes.
“Pregnant women in general require special care as their bodies are working at highest capacity to provide the necessary nutrition for the growth and development of a healthy baby,” said, Dr Buthaina al-Owainati, a member of Qatar Foundation’s Qatar Diabetes Association, and a senior consultant of endocrinology at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC)
Throughout the pregnancy, the immune system of an expectant mother is compromised to preserve the baby’s health. And for pregnant women with diabetes mellitus – whether diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 before pregnancy or discovered during pregnancy – the situation could be far more alarming, she said.
Dr al-Owainati highlighted that all diabetic pregnant women need to follow a certain protocols such as frequent testing for their blood sugar with frequent visit for their Antenatal Care with a multidisciplinary team care; following a healthy and balanced diet that ensures the baby gets all the necessary nutrition and the mother as well in order to compensate for the baby’s additional needs; and keeping blood sugar under control with the help of doctors while exercising moderately depending on the pregnancy status.
And as the world is battling against Covid-19, the situation becomes even more perilous.
“In cases where diabetic pregnant women have contracted Covid-19, and their symptoms are mild to moderate, their treatment is usually conducted by conservative management. But for those who show moderate to severe symptoms, such as pneumonia, treatment is usually modified according to a special protocol developed by the infectious diseases team at HMC,” Dr al-Owainati explained.
The course of pregnancy often does not get affected by Covid-19 unless the pregnant patient has severe symptoms like cough or fever resulting in premature rupture of membrane or bleeding. “So, to give a clearer image, a Covid-19 infection is not an indication for termination of pregnancy,” Dr al-Owainati clarified.
And even if not infected by Covid-19, Dr al-Owainati says that in order to have a healthy pregnancy for a diabetic woman, taking care of her mental health and wellbeing is critical. “The risk factor can cause more stress and anxiety to the mother-to-be, which should be dealt with in order to preserve the immune system and help it perform at best during this critical period. Family support plays an essential role in helping to reduce stress levels. In clinical visits, we usually advise the partner to take over the responsibilities of the house,” she added.
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